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OT -- financial interdependency in relationships

Ok, I just want some opinions here.

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. We are talking about marriage and children in the not so far future and all that goo stuff.

We are currently in the process of moving in together. Only problem is: he is making about twice as much money as I do (which is mainly due to the fact that I am still in school and can only work half time).

So at first he assumed we'd split rent 50/50, and kinda implied that since he makes more money, he could just give me gifts more often (like, buy me clothes if I am broke after paying the rent). I told him that I want a partner, not a sugar daddy.

I then suggested paying rent (and other expenses) based on our income (which I had kind of taken for granted given that we are committed and serious and almost 30 years of age, and which I had never questioned when it looked like he;d be unemployed and I offered to share my tiny pay check with him, no questions asked).

He said that, yes, that's something we could talk about, and he sees some good reason for that, yet he can totally see equally good arguments for going 50/50, but he'd do it for me.

I told him that under that circumstances, he can keep his money. I supported myself before and I'd rather be poor but self-sufficient than share a living with some guy who thinks he's doing me a favor.

What do you all think about that? Really, I'd appreciate feedback!


Thu. Mar 6, 1:39am

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Your plan...expenses based on percentages based on income sounds like the better way to go. Makes him not live in a shack and you not beholden to "sugar daddy."

Yeah this stuff is messy. It's hard to get it worked out. Also, men are paid better than women usually so it never really gets evened out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 3:34 AM

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My hubby and I earn comparrible incomes, so most stuff is kind of 50/50. I have college bills and credit cards to pay off, so he takes care of my car insurance and the cell phone bill. He also is willing to give me money whenever I need it. It's not a "here go get you some clothes..." It's more of a honey, here's some money because I know you're stuggling. I do the same for him too when he's tight on cash. A relationship shouldn't be about money. Especially if marriage is a thought. Hubby and I have built a strong relationship through give and take. He know's I'm there when he needs help, just like I know he's there when I do. Money is just a thing. A relationship is give and take. You have to be willing to work together. My hubby (at the time he was my boyfriend) lost his job about 2 months after we moved in together. I had to pay most of the bills, but I was also there to help him get his current job. We share bills, but we also aren't stingy with our money. Someday each of us need a little assistance. If he can't see that you are in the stage of low income, then tough. He shouldn't think he can live the "easy life" while you are struggling to come up with your half of the rent.
Good luck OP, hope you and your bf have a serious discussion about finances.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 10:35 AM

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This is a tough situation, and I don't think it has to be a serious problem. Nor does it necessarily mean that he's selfish. My BF and I are in the same exact place: his family has some money and he has not only a bit more income, but also lots of savings just sitting there. While I do okay financially, I'm sitting under loads of education debt ... We're ready to get engaged and buy a condo, and he wants to split the down payment 50/50, and since I can barely contribute, we'd end up with a low down payment, worse mortgage rates, and his sizable savings account still intact and all "his." When I pointed this out, he suggested "loaning" me part of the down payment: essentially, we'd get a lower rate because he'd be able to contribute the full 20% down payment, but then I'd contribute more to the mortgage until we were even (even though my salary is lower). I could scream! I absolutely don't want to assume he should "take care of" me, but I also never envisioned that he would still see money as "his" and "mine" at the point we're getting married and buying a place together. On the other hand, I can understand his feeling a fundamental sense of unfairness about making up for my financial situation.

I'm going to buy a book on finances (see link below) and make him read it with me. You should do the same. I think all of us will benefit from thinking carefully about what is ahead, planning a future together, understanding where the other side is coming from, and having a full understanding of the alternatives and options. It will make us healthier emotionally and financially!

Link

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 11:15 AM

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OP here... yes, it is tricky. I guess my main problem is the way it makes me feel. Throughout our entire relationship, I was always the one hurting on cash, but I never had him make up for it. I always insisted on paying my share, I still gave him presents, etc. Maybe he'd sometimes pay a bit more when we were out, but not too much. Moving in with me, he's getting a really good deal on housing (even if he'd pay a third of the rent, he'd still spend less than 1/4 of his income on rent, so he's not gonna hurt on money either way). Anyway, the entire time I didn't say anything, he was totally fine with splitting 50/50 and keeping a lot of money for himself. And then the one time I bring up that maybe we could split things in a way that does not only make him "profit" from our union, he gets defensive and concerned about his "financial interests" and makes me feel like some money-grabbing bitch. Awesome.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 11:25 AM

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We don't have 'his' money and 'her' money. ALL of OUR money goes towards OUR household. There is no 'mine' and 'yours' there is only 'ours'. We each contribute 100% of our income. There are also not 'his' and 'hers' debts - there are only debts and we pay them at an accelerated rate, prioritized by interest rate, until they are gone. At this point we only have our mortgage outstanding. We could not have been as effective at this if we were not pooling our resources and determining our priorities as a team. This won't work for everyone, but it's been very effective for us.

Once we got married, his obligations became mine and vice versa. We sit down together every Sat morning and do our financial spreadsheet so we know how much we spent during the week and talk about upcoming expenses and projects and budgeting. We used to talk about what debts were outstanding and which ones would be the priority, but now we talk about our investments and he makes any adjustments based on what we decide. We each take out a set amount of cash per week as 'play' money that goes for frivolous stuff like coffee, magazines, etc... There are almost no purchases over $100 that we do not discuss and agree on, and it's not a big deal - we just consult each other because we value the other's opinion and to keep ourselves up-to-date on spending. For example if I intend to go shopping and buy a bunch of stuff for the kitchen (or go clothes shopping) I'll just let him know I'm going shopping, I expect to do some damage, and I'll try to keep it under $xx amount and he does the same.

The problem with ignoring the disparity in your incomes is that he essentially profits off your lesser earning potential to get ahead and adds additional financial challenges for you instead of trying to help you lighten your load (as a partner would). Not saying he is conciously thinking this, but that is what is effectively going to happen with a 50/50 split. This is what is irritating you and for good reason. It also reduces your roles in the relationship to the dollar amounts you each contribute, and that diminishes each of you as people with an intangible value of your own who contribute far more than money to this union. Will there be a dollar amount on each household task too?

Best wishes to you both on arriving at a fair and equitable arrangment that doesn't make one of you feel taken advantage of. Not meaning to sound patronizing, but your ability to navigate this as a couple will likely be the most important issue you'll work through. In our case, we're so in-synch financially as couple that it was a non-event, but that's not generally the case. However, I found our views on money were very indicative of how in-sync we were with regard to values, communication and priorites in general.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 1:25 PM

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